This page will attempt to showcase the histories of New York City FM Radio stations,
past and present.
Please feel free to e-mail me with any information you would like to contribute to this page and
you will be credited.
Some information provided by:
WSIA - 88.9 FM, Staten Island
In the mid 1970s, a group of students interested in radio gathered in a broom closet in the C Building of The College of Staten Island.
They ran some wire to the cafeteria and started spinning records.
These students worked with the College and applied for an FM license.
They were granted a construction permit.
Not much more progress was made until the late 1970s when a new group of students applied to the Student Government and Association for money to start construction.
In 1980, a General Manager was hired to get the station on the air.
It took a year to work out an agreement for an antenna site on Todt Hill (the tallest point on the East Coast), install phone lines to the site for the transmitter, and to complete construction of the studios in the basement of E building on the Sunnyside campus.
On August 31, 1981, WSIA began regularly scheduled programming.
It was the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work by members of the College and students.
Yet, it was only the beginning.
Since that time, a great number of students have been trained to become staff members.
Some have gone on to careers in radio.
Others look back on WSIA as an important part of their student life.
For the next 12 years, WSIA-FM languished somewhat invisibly in the E-building basement below the cafeteria at the Sunnyside campus.
Few people at the college even knew the E-building had a basement or that CSI had a radio station.
However, many people from outside the immediate College community had come to realize just what WSIA was doing.
With the format in place, WSIA began gaining a reputation for playing music that nobody else on the overcrowded New York radio dial was.
The audience soon grew into other parts of the City, and then Northern New Jersey as well.
A number of changes have happened since 1981.
The station's offices and studios have been enlarged and improved.
Our operating budget has increased from $8,800 to $72,000 per year.
In 1985, the College showed its commitment by picking up the salary of the General Manager.
Previously, this had been paid out of student fees.
The programming has also undergone a number of changes.
Yet, students have always been committed to two things.
One, to be new and innovative.
The other, to serve the Staten Island community.
WSIA is a member of the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, the first and only national organization of university-licensed radio stations in the United States.
Today, IBS has almost 600 member-stations in the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand.
In 1987, the current WSIA General Manager (Greg Adamo) was elected to the IBS Board of Directors.
WSIA was selected in 1984 and 1985 as the host of the IBS Metro New York Radio Workshop.
In 1993, The College of Staten Island moved its entire campus to a new, bigger, and better location, giving WSIA completely new state-of-the-art facilities.
WSIA now uses brand new equipment making it one of the most technologically impressive radio stations in the entire country.
From its fully digital signal to its 64 track recording studios, WSIA has become a staple for new, uncommercial music in the New York City area.
WSIA is run by an all-student board of directors and also employs a full-time general manager, Greg Adamo.
It is licensed by the FCC and transmits to all of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn and New Jersey.
The station also introduces many local and unsigned bands.
The new studios are equipped with the capacity to bring bands in the perform live on-the-air, which has been done successfully many times already.
WSIA also has jazz and blues programming, sports talk shows, news programming and public affair discussions.
The Sports Department also brings the Staten Island community many local sporting events such as College of Staten Island and Wagner College basketball, and high school football.
Membership at WSIA is open to any student of The College of Staten Island, part-time or full-time.
No previous experience is necessary.
The studios are located in the Campus Center, right next to the Bookstore in Room 106.
Just look for the big neon sign, and there we are!
(Thanks to the WSIA website for this information) WNYU - 89.1 FM, New York
WNYU, owned by New York University, signed on May 3, 1973.
The station features an eclectic alternative format.
WNYU also runs a carrier-current station on 800 AM.
WNYU shares time with WFDU, Teaneck NJ.
WKCR - 89.9 FM, New York
What is now known as WKCR-FM originated in the early part of the twentieth century as the Columbia University Radio Club (CURC).
An exact date of origin is not known, but documentation of the CURC as an on-going organization exists as early as 1936.
The club was not a radio station as we know it, but rather an organization concerned with the technology of radio communications.
The group shared a prestigious association with Major Edwin Armstrong, the man who invented both AM and FM broadcast radio.
This association accounts for the marginally accurate phrase, "The Original FM" that one will often hear alongside the WKCR call letters.
In 1939, Major Armstrong turned his attentions towards commercial broadcasting.
This spurred the CURC to shift from a club concerned with radio technology to a de facto radio station that provided broadcasts to the campus.
It was in these early days of radio that the FCC granted the CURC its license - the precise date of which is October 10, 1941.
Following World War II, the FCC began codifying the formalities of being a radio station, and it was at this time that the call letters, WKCR (King's Crown Radio), were adopted.
The name dates back to 1754 when the school was called Kings College.
It was later named Columbia University in 1784.
Shortly thereafter, WKCR formally embraced the FM broadcast convention.
For the next ten to twenty years, WKCR-FM functioned as an intellectual radio station.
Programming was largely Columbia classroom events, classical music, and broadcasts of the United Nations.
After the student strike of 1968, this format changed.
The station shifted its emphasis from being an illustration of the university to presenting non-commercially viable programming to the metropolitan area.
Jazz provides the core of this broadcast approach, which is neatly summarized in the slogan, "The Alternative".
(Thanks to Doug Douglass and the WKCR website for this information)
WKRB - 90.3 FM, Brooklyn
The origins of WKRB began in 1972 when the station was known as WKCC, a carrier-current station, started by faculty advisor, John Manbeck.
The current WKRB signed on May 28, 1978 at 90.9 FM.
The station is owned by Kingsborough Community College.
Throughout most of its history, the station has featured a CHR format playing the hits of the day. With a well trained staff, the station has always had a top notch presentation on the air.
A quick glance at some of it's alumni shows that the Broadcasting program at Kingsborough works.
Alumni such as: William "Spanky" McFarland (WHTZ), Kid Kelly (WHTZ), Andy Shane (WHTZ/WKTU), Geronimo (WKTU), Yo Sunny Joe (WKTU), Lenny Green (WRKS), George Williams (WRKS), Ralphie Marino (WQSX), Mike Abrams (Radio One), Speedy (WQHT/WKTU) and Stanley T. Evans (WHTZ), to name a few, have all made their mark on the nations airwaves.
In October of 1985, WKRB started to use "B-91, The Rhythm of the City" as its slogan.
"The Rhythm of the City" started when the stations directors noticed that Bobby B & Darrin "Wayne" Friedman had created a great niche format with their Friday & Saturday Night Request Nights.
The shows featured classic dance songs not heard on the radio at that point in time.
Bobby B oversaw the transformation from Top 40 to Dance 40.
The format was an instant success, and continues to this day.
On March 31, 2006, WKRB changed frequencies to 90.3 because of increased interference from newly-upgraded WFUV 90.7 (see below).
(Thanks to John Manbeck, Marty Siegel and TheRhythmOfTheCity.com for some of this information) WHCR - 90.3 FM, New York
WHCR, owned by the City College Of New York, signed on in February 1985.
WHCR "Harlem Community Radio" is only a 10-watt station, but it serves two primary functions.
First, it is a broadcast "laboratory" for the college, especially for their students interested in Communications and related disciplines.
Second, as a community station, it provides informational, educational and cultural programming for the diverse populations of Harlem, upper Manhattan; and some sections of the Bronx, Queens and New Jersey.
(Thanks to the WHCR website for some of this information) WFUV - 90.7 FM, New York
WFUV "Fordham University's Voice" signed on in July of 1947.
The station currently features an AAA (or Adult Album Alternative) format, featuring programs from Pete Fornatale and Vin Scelsa, both previously at WNEW.
Pete Fornatale was actually with WFUV both before and after WNEW-FM.
It was his student show on FUV that got him an audition at the new free-format rock WNEW-FM, when he scooped everyone by interviewing Rosko after his on-air resignation from soon to not be free-format WOR-FM.
A couple of long-running specialty shows on WFUV include "City Folk" (a folk-rock show) and Rich Conaty's "Big Broadcast", which features popular jazz tunes from the 1920's and 1930's.
If anyone has any information on the early days of WFUV, please e-mail me at the address above.
(Thanks to Richard Koch for some of this information) WNYE - 91.5 FM, New York
This station's origins go back to November 1938, when it signed on as WCNY on 42.1mc, the early FM band.
In late 1941, the station moved to 42.3mc.
And, in 1948, the station, now called WNYE, moved to its present position of 91.5.
Currently, WNYE reaches over 13 million listeners and features all-digital production and transmission facilities.
WNYE produces over 1000 hours per year of original programming, including "Teen Talk Radio," an award winning radio feature produced by NYC public school students, "Ask the DA," produced in cooperation with the Kings County District Attorney's office and
Acclaimed Arts and Music Education programs including "The Golden Lyre," "Radio Compass," "Sounds Like...," "Anything Goes," and "Music in the Morning".
WNYE features 75% Education, News and General Audience programming and 25% Foreign Language news and culture programming and has national affiliations with NPR and PRI.
Since September 2001, WNYE has been simulcasting some programming from WNYC-FM (see below).
If anyone has information on the early days of WNYE, please e-mail me at the address above.
(Thanks to the WNYE website for some of this information)
WNOW - 92.3 FM, New York
92.3 dates back to December 25, 1948 when WMCA-FM signed on at 2:30p that day.
For the next year, it operated daily from 3p-9p, simulcasting WMCA, 570 AM.
In December 1949, Nathan Straus, president of WMCA, announced he was closing down the station because he was losing $4000 a month.
He had said several times that baseball games were cut short on the FM, deliberately to elicit response from listeners and he had received only 2 letters in regard to this practice during all of the summer of 1949.
Mr. Straus cited several reasons for the failure of FM: drifting of receivers, difficulty in tuning them, the union rule that announcers who were simulcast on FM and AM be paid double in New York and he said people could already hear WMCA on AM.
Further, Mr. Straus said that he had twice tried to give WMCA-FM away and couldn't.
This announcement drew sharp critisim from Major Edwin Armstrong, the inventor of the FM system of broadcasting, who said that Straus was not giving FM a fair chance.
Mr. Straus announced that WMCA-FM would quit permanently on December 31, 1949, but the day before, a group of businessmen and people associated with WIBG in Philadelphia came to Mr. Straus and announced their intension of buying WMCA-FM for $7500.
This group, known as WYOU, Inc., planned to change the call letters to WIFE-FM and broadcast storecast music for grocery chains and other stores.
So, WMCA-FM continued its 3p-9p schedule throughout 1950, however the negotiations with the WYOU group fell through.
In late 1950, WHOM 1480 AM, announced that it would purchase WMCA-FM.
An agreement was reached and 92.3 became WHOM-FM on February 26, 1951.
WHOM-FM initially featured a foreign-language format of 13 languages, including some not widely spoken ones such as Swiss-German, Carpatho-Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish and Chinese.
Efforts were made to educate the Chinese community in New York and WHOM-FM placed FM receivers in restaurants and various gathering places in Chinatown.
In about 1953, storecast music was aired from 9a-9p, with the Chinese show at 9 each evening.
The "Melodies To Market" storecasting consisted of light background music and institutional commercials under arrangement with the Storecast Corp. of America.
The programming was designed mainly for supermarkets and the affiliation lasted 8 years, until it was discontinued for "technical reasons."
In August 1961, WHOM-FM began a syndicated classical music format under the "Heritage" name.
This continued until June 15, 1962 when WHOM-FM began simulcasting the mostly Spanish programming from WHOM-AM.
Charles Baltin, VP of WHOM, noted the many Spanish-speaking listeners moving to New York and said the "WHOM-FM signal will extend farther than the WHOM-AM signal, providing listeners with a radio service they could not otherwise obtain."
The simulcast continued until 1970, when the FCC refused an extension of its permit to simulcast the AM.
The station then started broadcasting the "Romantic Sounds Of Stereo," a Latin-type beautiful music program service with Spanish and English announcers, but continued to simulcast the AM station from 5a-9a and all day Sunday.
By 1975, the station had evolved into a Pop/Rock leaning AC format, with calls of WKTU.
On July 24, 1978, WKTU abruptly switched to an "All Disco" format as "Disco 92", which eventually evolved into more of a Rhythmic CHR by the Fall of 1979.
In the summer of 1984, WKTU became a mainstream CHR.
Then, in July of 1985, after airing the Live Aid concert, the station switched to a mainstream AOR format, featuring new and classic rock as WXRK "K-Rock".
In September 1985, Howard Stern (who had been fired from WNBC earlier that year) joined the station, initially for afternoons and in early 1986 switched to mornings.
In 1987, WXRK had instituted a classic rock format and on January 5, 1996, evolved into an alternative/active rock format.
On April 4, 2005, WXRK debuted a mainstream rock format, encompassing music from the 60's to today.
On December 16, 2005, Howard Stern broadcasted his last show on the station, before his anticipated move to Sirius Satellite Radio on January 9, 2006.
On January 3, 2006, 92.3 became an "all-talk" station (with the exception of weekends when it features a rock format) using the "Free FM" slogan and featuring David Lee Roth in mornings.
Calls were officially changed to WFNY on January 1.
In April 2006, David Lee Roth was replaced with Opie & Anthony.
On May 24, 2007 at 5pm, "K-Rock" returned to 92.3.
Calls were changed back to WXRK on May 31, 2007.
On March 11, 2009, 92.3 switched to a CHR format as "92.3 Now FM", with the "K-Rock" format moving to 92.3's HD2 channel.
92.3 changed calls to WNOW on November 8, 2012.
(Thanks to Mark D, Patrick McIntyre & Tim for some of this information)
(Thanks to Bryan Vargo & "Dead Air Dave" for some old WXRK logos)
(Thanks to Matt Seinberg from BigAppleAirchecks.com for the "Disco 92" logo) WNYC - 93.9 FM, New York
This station's origins go back to around 1941, when it had the call sign W39NY and was located at 43.9mc in the early FM band.
On September 21, 1943, it became WNYC and in 1946 it moved over to 98.1 on the current FM band.
By 1948, it settled on its current position of 93.9 FM.
It has always featured classical and other cultural programming.
WNYC-FM is currently running at low power and operating jointly with their AM station, after the attacks on 9/11 destroyed their equipment on top of the World Trade Center.
WPLJ - 95.5 FM, New York
95.5's origins go back to 1948 when it was WJZ.
Calls were changed to WABC on March 1, 1953.
Starting on January 18, 1960, 95.5 simulcasted with WABC-AM from midnight to 6p.
From 6p to midnight, 95.5 featured Broadway show tunes.
Some jingles from this period can be heard here.
By the summer of 1967, WABC was featuring mostly rock album tracks.
By 1970, calls had changed to WPLJ, which stood for "White Port & Lemon Juice," an early 1950's R&B song by the Four Deuces, later covered by Frank Zappa.
WPLJ featured album-oriented rock in the 1970's, which evolved into CHR by 1983.
On December 17, 1987, calls were changed to WWPR ("World Wide Power Radio") and 95.5 became "Power 95."
However, a year later - December 21, 1988 - calls were changed back to WPLJ and "Power 95" was dropped.
In 1989, WPLJ adopted the "Mojo Radio" name and shifted to more of a Hot AC format.
Scott Shannon, who had previously done the "Morning Zoo" program on WHTZ "Z-100", signed on for mornings and has remained with the station since.
(Thanks to Fred Edwards & David Reff for some of this information)
(Thanks to Matt Seinberg from BigAppleAirchecks.com & Bryan Vargo for some old WPLJ logos)
(Thanks to Joe Tedd for the WABC-FM jingles)
(WABC-FM & early WPLJ logos, courtesy of NY Radio Archive)